Alone in the Dark: Survival of the fittest

PUBLISHER: Atari DEVELOPER: Eden Studios GENRE: Survival-horror RELEASE DATE: 2007 games game review game info
Gamener PREVIEW

WE’VE BEEN INSPIRED BY TV SERIES
like Lost, 24, and Prison Break,” says David Nadal, game director for Eden Studios’ upcoming survival-horror specimen Alone in the Dark. “We’re addicted to these series, and we wanted to capture that captivation
in terms of narration.”

Hence Eden’s novel approach to the trendy notion of episodic content: Unlike Ritual’s SiN
Episodes or Valve’s Half-Life 2 installments (see reviews on pgs. 80-81), Alone in the Dark will
be sold as a full ‘season’ of 10 to 15 episodes (roughly one hour apiece) right out of the box—all
of the recurring peaks and cliff-hangers, none of the annoying fi ve-month waits. “When you put
the game down and when you come back,” says Nadal, “you’ll be presented with ‘coming next’
and ‘previously on AITD’ clips. The beauty of the episodic format is that we have the option of
releasing ‘lost’ episodes after the game ships, as well as additional ones, in various formats.”

Hang in there, baby!

If you’re not convinced that the episodic structure (gimmick?) is any different from traditional
level structure, there’s more to AITD than that: Eden is trying to “evolve” past the genre’s
traditional awkward fi ghting and statue-andmedallion puzzles, citing the console (and PC,
come September) game Resident Evil 4 as the fi rst title to successfully break the mold that
its ancestor (and the original Alone in the Dark long, long ago) helped create: “When RE4 came
out, there were some aspects of it that were similar to what we’re doing in AITD, and this
comforted us…players do want an evolution, a renewal, even if it could be risky.”

As for evidence of evolution: AITD takes place in New York’s Central Park—Eden’s attempt to
take surviving horror out of endless hallways and out into the open. And in expanding the
stage, Nadal hopes to expand the arsenal. “We have your typical handguns and similar
weapons,” he says, “but we really want players to imagine, ‘What happens if the enemy can’t
be killed with bullets?’” Eden aims to make the environment your weapon, keeping players’
eyes on their surroundings to combat the scary things. “Elements in the environment are built
on real-world rules, so you’ll be able to interact instinctively with each situation.”

According to Nadal, “The best horror games in the past few years were Half-Life and Resident Evil 4.”

While that may sound like an alternate way to say “our game has physics and rolling barrels,”
Nadal offers up a car interior as a concrete example: “Imagine the front of the car is being attacked, and the player jumps into the backseat to hide behind and avoid the attacks…players can use the centralized locking system to lock the car doors, use the headlights to light up a dark
area—the car is fully functional, as one would expect in real life.”

Expect Alone in the Dark to make ample use of cliff-hangers at the end of episodes.

Other evolutionary evidence is a little more anomalous, including the howmuch- control- is-too-much- control ability to blink protagonist Edward Carnby’s eyes at will—to wipe away visions of Lovecraftian madness, we assume. But, as Lovecraft would tell you, assuming can get your face torn off by the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath.

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